COLLEGE STATION, Texas – After climbing to the top of the SEC standings with victories in each of its first three league games, the Texas A&M men’s basketball team looks to continue its success on Saturday when it faces off against Mississippi State in a 12:30 p.m. contest inside Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville, Miss.
The Aggies (12-4, 3-0 SEC) are riding the confidence of a four-game winning which has seen them capture SEC wins over Arkansas, Tennessee and South Carolina. No. 7 Florida stands alongside Texas A&M as the only other SEC team that remains unbeaten in league play, sharing a 3-0 conference record.
Saturday’s match-up will be televised on SEC TV with Dave Lamont (play-by-play) and Daymeon Fishback (commentary) calling all the action. Fans are encouraged to check www.aggieathletics.com/TV
for a list of stations carrying the game. In the Bryan-College Station region, CW Aggieland (CW8) on Suddlenlink will carry the game and fans can also stream the contest on ESPN3.com.
Additionally, the game can be heard on the Texas A&M Sports Network with local coverage in the Bryan-College Station area on WTAW (1620 AM).
During their most recent outing, a 75-67 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday at Reed Arena, Texas A&M got great offensive contributions from a pair of rookies off the bench as both Davonte Fitzgerald and Shawn Smith provided a spark.
Fitzgerald, a true freshman from Atlanta, Ga., contributed 13 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor while Smith, who redshirted last season during his first year on campus, finished with a career-best 14 points off the Aggie bench.
Junior Jamal Jones continues to be a consistent offensive producer for A&M as he did much of his damage against the Gamecocks from the free throw line where he went 9-of-12. The Wynne, Ark., native recorded 22 points in the contest to raise his scoring average during SEC play to 19.7 points per contest.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, enter the weekend with an 11-5 overall mark this season and a 1-2 record in the SEC. After falling during their league opener at Kentucky, MSU picked up a 76-72 home win over arch-rival Ole Miss last Saturday. The squad’s most recent outing came on Wednesday as the Bulldogs dropped an 80-61 decision to Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Mississippi State is 9-1 on its home court this season and brings a four-game home winning streak into the contest against the Aggies.
Second-year head coach Rick Ray’s team features a young roster that regularly starts all underclassmen including sophomore Craig Sword, who leads MSU by averaging 14.5 points per game.
• The Aggies improved to 3-0 in SEC play with a 75-67 win over South Carolina on Wednesday at Reed Arena ... Texas A&M enters the weekend tied atop the league standings with Florida.
• A win in Starkville would give Texas A&M a 4-0 start in conference, matching its best beginning to league play since the 2006-07 Aggies won each of their first Big 12 Conference games.
• Texas A&M and Mississippi State have met only four previous times on the hardwood, most recently on Jan. 30 of last season when the Aggies earned a 55-49 overtime victory at Humphrey Coliseum in Starkville.
• During last season's win over the Bulldogs, Fabyon Harris led all scorers with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor.
• The Aggies continue to rank among the best defensive teams in the country - leading the SEC in field goal percentage defense (.384) and ranking second in scoring defense (60.2).
• Junior Jamal Jones turned in his fourth straight contest scoring in double-digits during Wednesday's win over South Carolina by leading all scorers with 22 points ... During SEC play, Jones is averaging 19.7 points per outing to rank fourth in the league.
• Redshirt freshman Shawn Smith continues to improve during his first season on the court for the Aggies ... The Jacksonville, Fla., contributed a career-best 14 points with a 6-of-8 mark from the free throw line during the victory over the Gamecocks.
• Sophomore Alex Caruso remains the SEC's leader in assists (84) and assists per game (5.3) while ranking fourth in steals per game (2.3).
• Texas A&M has proven to be a good closing team as the Aggies are shooting 62.1 percent during the final five minutes of games this season while holding their opponents to just a 31.5 shooting percentage during that same time frame.
SERIES HISTORY VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE (SERIES TIED 2-2)
• Saturday will be the fifth meeting between the Aggies & Bulldogs on the hardwood.
• A year ago, the Aggies and Bulldogs squared off on Jan. 30 in Starkville with Texas A&M earning a 55-49 overtime victory ... Fabyon Harris led the way for the Aggies with 17 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
• Prior to last season, Texas A&M last faced Mississippi State at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 17, 2011, during the 2K Sports Classic ... MSU earned a 69-60 victory.
• Aggie floor general Billy Kennedy is 1-6 against the Bulldogs, while MSU's Rick Ray is 0-1 against the Aggies.
The Aggies' two-game road swing continued as they travel to Lexington, Ky., to battle Kentucky inside Rupp Arena on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ... The game will be televised to a national audience on ESPN as part of Super Tuesday.
CARUSO APPROACHING MILESTONES IN ASSISTS & STEALS
In less than two seasons wearing a Texas A&M uniform, sophomore Alex Caruso has developed into one of the most dynamic players in the Southeastern Conference and stands the verge of a pair of statistical milestones.
The College Station, Texas, native enters the MSU game approaching landmark career totals in assists (196) and steals (97). Caruso would become just the 18th member of Texas A&M's 100-Club and could become just the fifth Aggie to do so in just two seasons.
During the 69-53 victory over the Arkansas on Jan. 8, Caruso set a personal best by dishing out 11 assists and became the first Aggie to reach double-digit assists totals in a game since All-American Acie Law IV tied a school record with 15 helpers vs Texas on Feb. 5, 2007.
Caruso enters the weekend leading the SEC in both assists (69) and assists per game (4.9) while ranking third in the league steals (32).
KOURTNEY JOINS 500-REBOUND CLUB
With a six-rebound performance on Jan. 8th against Arkansas, junior forward Kourtney Roberson joined a prestigious group in Aggie basketball history - the 500 Rebound Club.
The three-year letterwinner, who has seen his rebounding totals improve each season in Aggieland, became just the 24th player to accumulate more than 500 rebounds during his playing days at A&M.
Roberson enters the Mississippi State game with 509 career rebounds and Wayne Lawrence (511 rebounds from 1957-60) and Mike Cliffard (1983-87) by just two boards for 21st place all-time.
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